Today I spoke on the phone with a journalist in Dubai about how the idea to do 7 ironman in 7 day challenge came about – it was over a “friday night dinner” in Portofino, Italy with Jason Gorud…
He and I were enjoying a great dinner right on the port, literally a few feet from the sea … discussing our 40th year challenges (we both turned 40 in 2011) and I jokingly mentioned the idea of doing an ironman on each of the seven emirates in seven days….
Instantly, he raised his wine glass and bet me a box of Monte Cristo ”A” cigars that I couldn’t do it … his way of making sure I go after this challenge…
anyways – after my conversation with the journalist, I thought about this blog entry … so decided to repost it.
Even if you have read this entry before — “don’t just sit back waiting for your life to happen…”
this title says it all
In Tokyo, on a Friday back in October of 1998…
I was the sales director of the Tokyo office.
We had a big week.
The newly, transferred General Manager of the office, an American, Jason Gorud invited me to dinner to celebrate the big week.
He took me to “il Pinolo” which was considered (at the time) the best restaurant in Tokyo.
The restaurant was very small, if I remember correctly, it had only 10 tables.
We sat at the third table in the gorgeous dining room; the best table in the restaurant.
I didn’t know Jason well; he had been in the office for less than one week, but we had several things in common – mainly, we are both from the Midwest in America and we had both lived in Japan for several years.
Up until that dinner, I had never ordered a bottle of wine because I didn’t drink alcohol.
However, after Jason persuaded me with talk about Ernest Hemingway (one of my favorite authors) as well as his favorite novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, “Zorba the Greek,” I agreed to “experience” wine.
Jason ordered a white New Zealand wine, “Cloudy Bay.”
We spent 4-5 hours discussing our aspirations, dreams and goals.
I remember discussions on leading adventurous, Hemingway-esque lives.
I remember Jason talking about…dreaming of living a life like Zorba.
It was a great, memorable dinner.
The following Monday…
Before work began, I went up to Jason’s office and suggested that if the sales for the office broke the previous weeks figure – we should go back to Il Pinolo again. Jason excitedly, agreed.
Like magic, I had another big week and the office beat the previous week’s sales…
what drove me that week was to ensure we went back to Il Pinolo for dinner.
By chance, we sat at the same table and we both instinctively, sat in the same seats as before – Jason to my right.
We stuck to the same ritual as the Friday before – one glass of champagne to start and then one bottle of Cloudy Bay.
Again, we spent the evening dreaming and discussing setting simple goals…
Like the previous Friday night, we were the last table to leave the restaurant.
Over the next 10 months, we turned this end of work week dinner into a prize:
we would work our asses off during the week to be able to go out to dinner on Friday night, eat great food, drink great wine and celebrate life.
But if we slacked off, missed the numbers or generally failed to deliver on the goals we set for ourselves, we would have no FND.
In 10 months, we only missed one FND, and it was very early on so we learned from our mistakes.
Very quickly, Jason started to call the dinner “FND” for “Friday Night Dinner.”
“Ritual” is important to both of us.
Over time we developed certain rituals, which became a sort of rule set:
- we must always wear suits
- the FND must occur at the best, or one of the best rated restaurants in the city the FND takes place.
- Jason always sits to my right
- no guests are allowed, not even wives, friends or family
- one Friday I pay, the next Friday Jason pays (even if the next FND doesnt happen for months)
- one glass of champagne to start
- we limit ourselves to one bottle of wine during the dinner (we dont want to become drunk)
- we document every “Friday Night Dinner” in the same Hermes leather journal
To this day, we still adhere to these ‘rules’ as a way of differentiating an FND from just another nice dinner.
One FND we got into an argument about which restaurant had the better view– “New York Grill” in Tokyo (not our usual FND location, but one of the more iconic restaurants in Tokyo) or “Felix” in Hong Kong….
Both have stunning views, but I bet the airplane tickets that “Felix” in Hong Kong had the better view.
Around midnight, we went straight to the airport (about a 3 hour train ride from Tokyo) and flew early that morning to Hong Kong, booked rooms in The Peninsula (where Felix is located) and enjoyed a Saturday night dinner to judge who was right.
After a great meal and a bottle of Cloudy Bay, we both agreed, the view from “Felix” was not better than the view from “The New York Grill,” thus I lost the bet.
At the time, we were both 27 years old and the internet didn’t dominate our lives like it does today.
You couldn’t just “google” something.
Reflecting back, it didn’t seem crazy or extravagant — debating with your friend on which restaurant has a better view of two amazing cities – one in Tokyo or one in Hong Kong, and then going straight from one restaurant in Tokyo to the airport to catch the first flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong to see who is right ….
….that’s what the FND turned into – pushing ourselves into experiencing life, doing crazy challenges, and most importantly NOT talking about what we were going to do, but challenging each other to make it happen.
Just a few quick examples…
Over an FND, we decided to go to Africa and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Several months later, we summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in a white out snow storm. A few days after the summit, we went on a 5 day safari in the world’s largest, most incredible wild life reserve.
Over a FND, Jason told me he was getting married and asked me to be his best man…
Over a FND, Jason challenged me to swim across the English channel … three months later, I did.
Within a year or so of the original FND, we both moved our separate ways to different countries, and while (individually) we ended up moving on with our lives, the FND ritual still remained important to us.
At least once a year, since 1998, We have organized our schedules to enjoy an FND – recently, several times a year.
Up until now, Jason and I have had an FND in many different countries at some of the most famous restaurants in the world, including, but not limited to restaurants in:
Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Nairobi, Amsterdam, Zurich, Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, Lyon, St Tropez, Monaco, London, Beverly Hills just to name a few….
The FND is not about the dinner, or silly rituals or idle chit chat.
The FND is about consistency, focus and ultimately — achievement.
The FND is our incentive…
An incentive for us to work hard to try and make our lives happen — our incentive to ensure we don’t just sit back and allow life to happen around us.
(we have since taken the FND ritual to a whole new level with the FND trip – trips organized once a year around food, wine and seeing cool shit…
for those interested: http://www.scottragsdale.com/?p=3827)
on Jan.12, 2010, under other
At the end of 2002, when we first started naseba, literally the very first day … I received an email and phone call from one of my ex-staff at M.E. asking if I would give him a reference.
This person had been the production manager in Tokyo as well as in my Shanghai office – and (at the time) I liked him.
I thought he was very good at his job, thus I happily agreed to give him the reference.
When the HR woman from Australia called me, I gave this ex-staff a 45 minute glowingly, positive reference and even told her that I would hire him myself if I could afford him.
The woman asked me “so you suggest we hire him?” And I said, “yes, hire him without hesitation.”
During the 45 minute conversation, she asked me how big was the team he had managed (in reality it had been around 8-10 producers) but I told the woman his team was “18-20 and the best team in the company.”
I guess my previous employee had told the woman he managed a team of 40+ …. (which I did not know before hand)
When this ex-employee did not get the job, he blamed me.
He sent me the most disrespectful email I have ever received from a previous employee, telling me I was jealous of him, I was a fluke…he threatened to black mail me….the email was ridiculously, over the top disrespectful — especially, considering I had taken super care of this Australian during the time he worked with me in Tokyo and in Shanghai.
There have been a couple others over the years who I had given a great reference, but ultimately they didnt get the job and of course blamed me…
Therefore, I have a policy where I do not give references for any ex-employee, no matter how much I might have liked the person in question – because I will be blamed if the person does not get the job.
Today, my assistant received a call from someone in Singapore asking to speak to me to get a reference for a previous manager who worked for me a while ago. When my assistant told the guy calling for the reference, I do not give references…he even told the guy, this does not reflect poorly, whatsoever on the person in question, just my policy.
Apparently, the guy calling then said to Tom, “if Scott doesn’t have 3 minutes to speak to me, then tell him to go fuck myself” …..
That’s an odd reaction from someone (presumably) in HR calling to get a reference for another person.
Just when I begin to think I have seen it all….
where is John Galt?
on Feb.08, 2009, under ode to Marcus Evans
Last night, a reader in California whom I have never met, and doesn’t work in the same industry sent me a message on facebook telling me how he liked ”ode to Marcus Evans…” blog entry so much he printed out a copy and passed it out to all the people in his office.
During my training this morning, I thought a lot about this blog and the theme associated with it.
I also reflected on my experience since I wrote it 3+ years ago – and the numerous super bitches who have popped in and out of my life since I first posted it.
Whether you work for naseba or not – I challenge everyone to read this (revised edition) and reflect.
Loyalty vs disloyalty is a theme I have discussed throughout this blog.
Some people have commented how I was “disloyal” to my previous company…
Therefore, I wish to explore the root of this “disloyalty.”
For this entry and discussion on “disloyalty” … I am going to use myself as the example.
The purpose is to try and positively, influence anyone who might be able to relate to my story.
In fact, we can ALL relate to this discussion, whether you work for naseba or not.
I did not quit my previous company because I was looking for “greener grass…”
I did not quit to secretly, start my own company.
I did not quit.
I was pushed out because I had become a “super bitch.”
“Super bitch” is a theme which I have hammered throughout this blog … and in my opinion — it’s the “root” to disloyalty.
Like many people in this industry … when I joined my previous company in Tokyo it was my first real job.
I started to sell very quickly…
with my quick deals in a ‘underperforming’ office came some sort of “power” within the office.
It did not matter that I had never been a manager, thus had zero management experience …I knew better than the boss.
It did not matter that I had never been in the corporate world, thus did not understand company procedures and protocol … I knew it all.
With my sales success came a “superficial power” within the office – at the time, I was in my early to mid-20′s and I didn’t know how to handle the quick success and big pay checks.
Sincerely, I wanted the best for the office and the company.
I was a very loyal and a sincere guy, but with my sales success; then my teams sales success; and ultimately my offices success — I became uncontrollably, arrogant.
My Chairman met me once a month, and naively/ungratefully, I completely… took his time for granted.
Like a spoiled baby — I expected the Chairman to take the time to meet me …
International travel … I traveled the world and I took it completely for granted.
“all companies send their staff around the world and put them up in 5 star hotels??”
I expected my boss to take my calls … and I called whenever I wanted.
I expected my boss to reply to my emails and I hammered him with emails whenever I wanted — often suggesting to him on how to do his job.
I was probably one of the top talents in the company, and (arrogantly) I thought I knew everything.
Upon reflection, being the best sales man allowed me to get promoted to GM quickly …. get a nice salary, as well as rewarded with office override, bonus commissions etc.
In one year, my basic salary was increased by more than 300%
But I just expected this…
I just expected to have my salary raised…
I just expected to receive a bonus for doing my job very well.
I just expected…
With my success and large pay checks I became “unmanageable” … I thought I knew more than my multi-millionaire Chairman.
After all, I was very talented…
I was great at closing deals … training young kids to sell … building teams…
But the truth: I was a fucking nobody.
I became difficult to manage.
I became super arrogant.
I spoke disrespecfully, to the Chairman on the phone and via email.
Many people reading this entry can change the roles in this blog –from the old Scott and Marcus– to you and your current boss — whether that boss is at naseba or not.
No matter how good you might be in your role at your company – do not fall in the trap of believing you are more important than you really are.
I am proud of what we are achieving at naseba … but there is NO WAY I would have developed/learned/matured if I had not first reflected and ultimately, changed.
I was not disloyal to Marcus in setting up naseba.
I was disloyal to Marcus by becoming a “super bitch” when I worked for him and thinking I was someone more important than I really was.
on Nov.12, 2008, under other
Each year, my closest friend, Jason Gorud and I take a 7-10 day trip some where focused entirely on eating and drinking great wine. Over the past few years, the two of us have driven all over Italy and France each year picking a different region just for the purpose of trying different restaurants and vineyards.
I guess it all began in Tokyo back in 1998 with our Friday night dinner club which I blogged about before …. we call it, “FND” which has since taken us for dinner to 12 different countries over the past 9 years and to some of the most famous restaurants in the world organized always around a Friday night.
Several months ago, we took a week and drove from Paris to Bordeaux and then Bordeaux to Lyon then down to Monaco … the trip was great — organized completely around vineyards and restaurants. Jason joked that he expected a blog to be done for him on his birthday because he bought some expensive wine for “the cave.”
Although he lives in Hong Kong, together we are building and stocking a massive, ultimate wine cellar in my home in the south of france. He enjoy’s our house so much that Sophie and I have named our guest house “Maison d’ J” in his honor.
I wont waste the readers time on personal crap or talk about all the times Jason has been there for me when other “best friends” have not. Not to mention …we are both terrible at small talk.
Happy Birthday Jason …. at least 4,000 people around the world will know today is your birthday.
on Sep.10, 2008, under searching for John Galt...
In Shanghai today – I bumped into an old sales staff who worked for me in Tokyo.
Over lunch, we reflected back over the time we worked together … and he pointed out that the office in Tokyo completely changed for the better — it exploded with business as soon as we took out just one negative person….
The negative person he was refering to was the sales director of the office …an australian sales woman who ran the delegate sales floor.
In the beginning…. I was not on her team and I was new to the office and the industry therefore, my vision of what was happening was unblurred by personal experience.
But sitting across the office …. I witnessed this woman give her team no support, no training – she did not lead them at all. She did not want them to succeed.
Each time she got a delegate contract – she would walk around the office telling everyone “I got a deal. I got a deal. I got a deal…”
Imagine… if you were on a sales team and you were not selling because your manager gives you no training… no support…yet each time this manager gets a contract she gets in your face to make sure you know about it.
“I got a deal…I got a deal…I got a deal…”
… once I started to sell a lot on sponsorship, I ultimately became her Sales Director .. so I forced (gun to the head) the GM to take the cancer out of the office.
As soon as she was terminated – the office exploded with business.
At first my GM was against my idea because Lisa was bringing a couple deals a week – he did not want to lose consistent business – however, I pointed out that we were losing a lot more because no one on her team was performing, not to mention she was dragging down everyone in the office with her negative, bitching and moaning.
From my experience, mediocre managers do not want the people around them to succeed because if the person succeeds – essentially, the manager will be challenged — and mediocre people do not like competition.
how many exceptional talents and future leaders either quit or do not succeed in companies because their manager/leader does not want them to succeed, thus will give them zero training support.
one negative person – no matter how great they might be at their job can and will destroy the whole.
Negative, bitching, whinning, moaning employees, esp management level are like cancer to a company.